December 20, 2012 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Jeff has loaned his car to Charlie. (Jeff is being more than fairly compensated for temporary use of the car.) The car's registration has lapsed. So Charlie is the one who would get ticketed, if pulled over. Jeff will be taking his car back in a couple months.

(I know you are not my DMV employee:)

What happens to Charlie's ticket if Jeff decides to let registration continue to be lapsed on the car? Is Charlie's only option to pay the registration of a car that is not his nor in his name?

All in Los Angeles.

(This is a practical question, not an ethical one.)
posted by crankyrogalsky to Law & Government (12 answers total)
I'm not sure what you're asking. I imagine you are Charlie and you are trying to get out of the (potential) ticket. If that is the case, you have an arrangement that needs fixing - not a ticket that needs fixing.

Charlie has three options:
  1. Pay the registration on Jeff's car and the "fix-it" value of the no-registration ticket. Usually the "fix-it" value is something like $25 and requires showing that the registration has been corrected to a court officer.
  2. Pay the full value of the no-registration ticket (a couple hundred dollars usually) without updating the registration. At that point, Charlie can either stop driving the car or risk getting another ticket.
  3. Don't pay the ticket and risk a bench warrant or something worse.

posted by saeculorum at 3:34 PM on December 20, 2012

Practically, can Charlie pay Jeff the compensation less the cost of registration?
posted by jeather at 3:37 PM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did Charlie actually receive this ticket? I can't see how a person who doesn't own the car or the registration would suddenly be responsible for it just by driving the car.
posted by erst at 3:38 PM on December 20, 2012

erst: In California (as in most states), the law is written such that no person can drive a car without registration. In California, the relevant law is Vehicular Code Section 4000, which indicates:
A person shall not drive, move, or leave standing upon a highway, or in an offstreet public parking facility, any motor vehicle, trailer, semitrailer, pole or pipe dolly, or logging dolly, unless it is registered
In other words, the driver is responsible for the registration of a vehicle regardless of who the owner is.
posted by saeculorum at 3:41 PM on December 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The larger problem is that after Charlie is ticketed, he will wave bye-bye as the car is towed to the impound yard.

If Charlie is borrowing a car with expired tags to drive on public roads, Charlie is assuming risk and breaking the law. If Charlie is pulled over and ticketed, nothing "happens" to Charlie's ticket. Charlie needs to pay the ticket. If Charlie wants the car out of impound, someone is going to need to pay the registration fee. That is a practical problem between Jeff and Charlie, not a legal question, although Jeff is ultimately responsible for paying the registration fee.

Charlie can also expect the car to be towed even while parked. I think Charlie accepted a bad deal with a lot of risk. Sorry, Charlie.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:43 PM on December 20, 2012 [9 favorites]

Seconding that the car will be impounded, which is a huge pain in the ass and very expensive. It could be picked up while parked on the road, or if Charlie gets pulled over for any reason. And yes, the cops will literally leave you at the side of the road as they tow the car away. (Some of the nicer ones will call you a cab.)

Also, in my experience (albeit 15+ years ago) getting a fix-it of this kind cleared up requires going to court, which generally takes an entire day, if, say, there's a courtroom full of people and you happen to be the very last person to be called. Just FYI.

Also, if Charlie doesn't pay the ticket, it'll go to warrant eventually and he runs a very big risk of going to jail the next time he's pulled over for even the slightest violation. He also won't be able to renew his driver's license until that ticket is dealt with.
posted by BlahLaLa at 4:07 PM on December 20, 2012

Charlie is free to pay the ticket (as he is responsible, as the driver, for operating an unregistered vehicle, though Jeff really should cover the expense) and to promptly return the car to Jeff for him to deal with. If Charlie wants to continue driving it (or parking it on a public street), he needs to ensure that the car is registered, however he does so.

Note that there is no grace period in California for parking vehicles with expired registrations on the street before you'll get towed.
posted by zachlipton at 4:11 PM on December 20, 2012

Did Charlie actually receive this ticket? I can't see how a person who doesn't own the car or the registration would suddenly be responsible for it just by driving the car.

In Louisiana, the driver of the car is held responsible for safe operation of the car, this includes current insurance, registration and brake tag. It does not matter who owns the car.

Borrowed my mother's car one afternoon, her brake tag was expired, I was pulled over and the ticket was written to me.

Tommy borrowed Jim's truck for an afternoon. Tommy was involved in an accident with the truck and another vehicle. Tommy was at fault in the accident and received a ticket. When the other driver attempted to collect on Jim's insurance for damages, it came to light that the insurance on the truck had lapsed. The truck was uninsured at the time of the accident. Tommy was issued a second ticket for driving without insurance. Other driver sued Tommy successfully for $10,000 for repairs and personal injury. Tommy and Jim are no longer friends.
posted by JujuB at 5:10 PM on December 20, 2012

Jeff should refund a portion of the compensation he received from Charlie equal to the total$/#ofmonthsoftotalperiodofloan*#monthsleft or pay for registration.
posted by girlpublisher at 5:12 PM on December 20, 2012

Best answer: If Charlie wants to keep driving the car, he should register it, because if he is caught with an unregistered car the car will be towed and he will have to walk instead.
posted by crankylex at 5:53 PM on December 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

What crankylex said. I was pulled over earlier this week for having an unregistered car (my registration expired in June -- whoops), and the cop who stopped me said that in Maine, where I live, operating a vehicle whose registration has been expired for more than 150 days is a Class E crime.

If he'd decided to be a hardass about it, he could have arrested me, and I would have had to go before a district court judge and risked a county jail sentence of up to six months. But this particular officer said that he always gives people a warning if they haven't been pulled over for expired registration before. I really lucked out.
posted by virago at 9:24 AM on December 21, 2012

This happened to me years ago, in Los Angeles county.

In my case, the car in question supposedly needed over $1K of work to get it pass smog inspection. I was just using it for the day to get to work, my own car being broken down.

My ticket was a fix-it ticket to get the registration paid. The owner of car swore he didn't have the money to get it to the condition it needed to be in to pass smog, and no way I was paying for any of it.

I went to court to fight the ticket and was told by the judge that whoever is driving the car is responsible for it, end of story, no way to get the ticket invalidated or to get it re-issued to the true owner of the vehicle.

My only recourse was to not pay the ticket, let it go to warrant, and then pay the warrant to clear the whole thing off my record.

The warrant cost $800. You better believe I made my friend (okay, he was my long-term boyfriend) pay it. He never did get the car fixed / smogged / registered (he traded it as-is to a used carlot for another vehicle).
posted by vignettist at 11:03 AM on December 21, 2012

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